We had the good fortune of connecting with Kirin Macapugay and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kirin, is there something you believe many others might not?
I believe in society’s ability to change for the better, even if it often doesn’t feel that way. I cringe when people say, “this is just how it is.” I believe we have the view the world in its full reality, but it’s  important to see potential, to envision what the world COULD be.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never knew I would become a professor. It was not in my life plan. I knew I wanted to work with/in the communities dear to me—southeast San Diego, South Bay, folks who were disadvantaged. After working in public schools, healthcare, and various nonprofits since 1998, I received an email from a colleague and a former professor at San Diego State University’s School of Social Work. They asked if I would like to teach a Macro Social Work class, knowing I was one of few people with a Master’s in Social Work doing community wide, systemic work. My very first class was so incredibly boring (sorry, students), as I was brand new to teaching a graduate level class and had not touched theoretical texts in 12 years at that point. But over time, I learned how to teach. I found ways to make the material more relevant, to take what we were experiencing in the our lives and to learn from those experiences in real time. More importantly, I grew to love it. I love seeing knowledge stick in another person. I love seeing that “aha!” moments in students faces, and I even appreciate when they challenge me to approach a topic a little bit differently. Teaching has made me a better person overall. My pathway to professorhood was unusual. I was invited to teach at the university and college level when I have peers with doctorates struggling to find a class to teach. I do not take for granted how incredibly fortunate I have been in my higher education journey. I was an adjunct professor at SDSU starting 2014. In 2017, another colleague sent me a posting from San Diego City College calling for candidates to teach their Human Services and Social Work classes full time. I threw my hat in the ring, and here I am now, close to being tenured. I never imagined this is where I would land. But when I am in my classes with the incredible humans I have the honor of teaching and BEING taught by, I know exactly I am where I am meant to be.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
There are so many spots I love in San Diego. If I may, I would like to write this from the perspective of pre-COVID times when we could gather in places more safely. When people visit I love to bring them to Snoice in Paradise Hills for the best halo halo (A Filipino ice and mixed goodies milk dessert), what was once Project Reo Collective–pending a transformation, because seeing what has sprung in the community I grew up in is most important. I would bring them to a “kamayan” feast at Villa Manila in National City where their Filipino fried chicken is perfect, and visit the arches at the Imperial Beach boardwalk. I would take them to my first neighborhood in San Diego–Barrio Logan, and marvel at the history of Chicanx/a/o activism and community strength laid out in the murals of Chicano Park, while sipping on a latte from Por Vida. We would HAVE to sit by the old trees in Embarcadero and watch families fly kites, before walking down India Street in Little Italy for the pasta and gelato that taste best in that neighborhood. We could sit on the Piazza de Famiglia and watch the sun set over the harbor. We could end the weekend hiking off all that good food at Cowles Mountain and relax fishing or boating on Poway Lake, or body board and surf at La Jolla Shores before saying to the seals at the coves from a distance. Thinking about all these things make my heart ache a bit. We could do these things now, I just miss when we could do them with less worry.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I often think about the people I loved who have passed on, my grandparents, friends I lost early to everything from cancer to depression to lack of resources. But lately I have been encouraged by our younger folks, the generations coming into their own who are asking the right questions, the kids who are so much smarter than I was at their age.

Website: kirinmac.com
Instagram: kirin.mac

Image Credits
San Diego City College, LEAD FIlipino

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